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6th Circuit Panel OKs Judge's Membership in White-Boys' Club

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on May 26, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If a Federal Judge belongs to an all-white, all-male club, is it an issue? Is he partaking in racial discrimination?

Now, let's throw in the fact that this is no small club. It has 600 voting members, all white males.

Does that change things?

Well, according to The New York Times, a 10-8 decision of the Judicial Council of the Sixth Circuit allowed Judge George C. Paine II to keep his membership in the Belle Meade Country Club in Nashville.

An anonymous ethics complaint was filed last year against Judge George Paine, citing his membership in such a club. While the complaint was eventually dismissed by the Judicial Council, there were four separate dissents filed in the case, writes The Associated Press.

According to The Associated Press, an anonymous woman complained to the chief judge of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in May 2008, claiming that Paine was in violation of a code of conduct that prohibits judges from being members in any organization that practices “invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion or national origin.”

But is a club with 600 all-white, all-male voting members really practicing racial discrimination? Let’s add the fact that Judge Paine says he tried very hard to diversify the club and to sponsor a black member.

It would help if the club had actually followed through on Judge Paine’s efforts, though.

Despite Paine’s stated efforts to diversify the club’s membership in the last fifteen years, the club still has no voting female or African American members. And while Judge Paine made an effort to sponsor the membership of an African American, his efforts were in vain. He also argued that minorities are welcome, but that it was hard to convince them to apply. That should come as no surprise, given the fact that the Club took no real action on the one black applicant who applied in recent years. After all, who wants to apply, knowing that they’ll only be rejected?

Though the Court ruled in his favor, its all over for Judge George Paine. As it turns out, Judge Paine has had enough and complained of the politics that undermine the 6th Circuit.

Says Judge Paine, “I am looking forward to my retirement from the federal judiciary at the end of the year.”

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